Wandering Folk founder Sharnee Thorpe opens up about the inspiration behind her newest collection

We have fallen head over heels with Wandering Folk, a whimsical homegrown lifestyle label dreamed up by Byron Bay local Sharnee Thorpe.  

Wandering Folk was born from Thrope’s love of the outdoors, camping and mostly picture-perfect picnics, and her desire to be surrounded by beautiful prints and textiles.

Hand-drawn and designed out of her Byron Bay studio, Sharnee first started making practical rugs that were more like a magic carpet than a picnic rug. For many years she was running her business solo, packing orders in her bedroom, replying to customer emails and working her usual busy freelance life on the side.

Today, she has built a team, has a beautiful showroom in Byron Bay and close to 100 stockists selling her beautiful products. Now adding to this is her very first home collection with Adairs.

Here’s a little bit about Sharnee Thorpe and the inspiration behind her collection for Adairs.

Many people are inspired by everything you do. Where do you draw your own inspiration from to keep creativity flowing?

I’m a vintage addict so when I have time, I love hunting for treasures that inspire new print ideas. Pinterest is a great way to get lost in beautiful images that spark exciting ideas in my busy mind. I love reading (before I go to sleep) I’m always reading a few books at a time. I also love listing to inspiring podcasts that tell stories of creatives in business.

When did your passion for creating begin and what made you realise you wanted to start Wandering Folk?

I’ve always loved creating from a really young age. I remember painting birds and flowers ­­with my grandma in her craft room and I guess it just flowed from there. After I finished studying, I worked for a print studio designing prints for the fashion industry. It was a very fast-paced job designing 25 prints a week. I soon realised I wanted to be a freelancer so I could take the time to hand paint my prints and really take pride in the artwork I was creating rather than pump it out.

It was about two years into freelancing when I started to daydream about how awesome it would be to have my own brand, where I could have 100% creative freedom on the prints. I guess this was the seed of how Wandering Folk came about.

What was your inspiration behind the collection you’ve created for Adairs?

I’m a lover of vintage florals. These hand-drawn prints were inspired by an old tablecloth a family member found in an op shop, I just loved the large scale of the flowers. I’m forever inspired by the ornate shapes of the artist movement Art Nouveau ─ it was fun to combine these two styles to create the prints for the collection.

Can you tell us your favourite items in your collection for Adairs and why?

The deck chair and umbrella, I’m just loving the 70s vibe these green colours bring! I can picture myself in this setup all summer long with a cocktail in hand, I hope.

The location shoot for your Adairs collection looked absolutely stunning! Can you give us a bit of insight into the day and how it all came together?

Day one setup was at the big fig trees in Byron Bay, it’s such a beautiful location. My friends got married there so I knew it would be the most magical place for the enchanting outdoor bed setup. We had my favourite flower master Nikki there to help us transform the rocks into a flowerbed. Velvet loved it; it was like a scene out of one of her fairy-tale books. Reading bedtime stories to her in the bed surrounded by my artwork, under the fig tree was a pretty special moment.

The day was beautiful with a great team on set, the golden afternoon light brought the whole setting to life and after the sun had gone down the fairy lights turned on, with the glow of the candles it transformed in a truly enchanting setup that was better than I could have imagined!

Day two was up on the top of a hill. It was a very windy day and the team did a great job keeping all the outdoor collection looking its best while we battled the elements. Nature has a way of testing you sometimes, with green ants biting me through the sheet while I was playing with Velvet under the beach shade and lots of bees in the clover ─ I was worried about Velvet getting stung while she was running around!

Trying to get a wild two-year-old to stay in the scene was a challenge, music and dancing helped. The wind died down as the sun was setting and the afternoon picnic was a dream.

Running your business and creating your artwork while raising your daughter must mean you’re super busy! How do you do it all? What’s your secret?!

Oh yep my life is pretty busy! I used to think I was busy before my daughter arrived, I guess I had more time for myself then but now every spare moment is spent on the business or with family. It’s a challenge to carve out me time. I try to sneak in a super-early yoga class once or twice a week if I’m lucky to balance out the madness.

I definitely have not figured out the secret. Most days are wild and a giant rush to day care and then to the office. I’m very lucky to have a great team at Wandering Folk that help keep it all together and running smoothly.

My husband, Arthur, now works for Wandering Folk so we share day care drop offs and pick ups to help lighten the load. I also live on the same property with my parents and sister so it’s amazing to have their help with Velvet.

There’s a quote I read somewhere years ago before I became a parent it said, “You can have it all, just not all at once.” I know my time of slowing down will come one day and I’ll find the balance that everyone seems to be searching for. For now, it’s a wild ride, but I’m so passionate about creating for Wandering Folk and that’s what keeps me going.

Do you have any tips for mums, parents or aspiring creatives who are thinking about starting their own creative business?

Be truly unique in what you do! If you’re thinking of starting a business, make it your own with your personality and your story and that’s what will lead to success.

Do it for the love, not the money, as it’s years of hard work before you see the money rewards. I believe it’s the passion of creating something you love that will lead to true success.

We can’t wait to take your Adairs outdoor items out on adventures this summer. Can you tell us what you’d pack for the ultimate day at the beach with your family?

The beach umbrella is a must. The beach tent to give us extra shade for a full day in the sun. One of the bamboo platters for yummy fruit spread. Towels for the family. And, some beach games!

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